I know someone who keeps saying, “It is what it is.” Apparently she’s said it so much, that someone got her, or she herself obtained, a wood plaque with these five words. This plaque is the only art or tchotchke which she has in her kitchen.
For over two years now, when fumbling for an answer to a question, or when things go wrong, this motto is her standard response. As the current president of a nonprofit on which we both sit on the board of directors, this knee-jerk response has not sat well with me. During a board meeting, I asked her why she keeps saying this.
I mean, come on – how is an organization gonna get anywhere when a board director, the president of a nonprofit to boot, has this kind of attitude? Huh?
She looked at me as if I was crazy. Then she heaved a big sigh. As if explaining some difficult concept to a small child, she finally told me, because it IS what it is.
No, no, no, no, no. This statement is not a magic wand. Speaking these words does not answer the question or fix the problem. What this phrase or motto says to me is, “I don’t give a darn.” Or, “Not my problem.” It’s a cop out.
Although I do understand there are some things in life which do not change (the sun rising every morning), and there are many things in life that we may not like but would be very difficult to change (paying taxes), we humans have brains and opposable thumbs. We CAN change things. We CAN improve our lot. And with instant, worldwide communication, a single person’s actions can have a huge impact. A greater impact than even 15 years ago. Joe Blow in the middle of nowhere can post something to social media or start an online petition and BOOM – Joe Blow’s just brought attention to X issue and has thereby forced the persons responsible for that issue to rethink their position, take Joe Blow’s suggestions to heart, and resolve the issue.
It need not be what it is.
Especially, if what it is is should NOT be what it is.